Friday, July 9, 2010

Local haunts - The Karsten Inn

This article came from

July 8, 3:34 PM Central Wisconsin Paranormal Examiner Kathie Kessler

Kewaunee, Wisconsin, a beautiful town on the shores of Lake Michigan, chosen in 1836 to be a trading post due to it's natural harbor. By 1856 the town was bustling with commerce and the lumber trade. As many as 20 ships would enter the harbor each day delivering goods, passengers and settlers.

In 1858 Charles Brandes built “The Steamboat House” to accommodate the visitors and merchants. The building changed hands several times until 1911 when it was purchased by William Karsten Sr.. Karsten was a retired Sea Captain himself, and made his fortune opening the Pabst Brewery in Kewaunee, and also served as the town mayor.

Unfortunately, a year after he purchased the property it was consumed by fire, thankfully no one was killed. Karsten immediately set to rebuilding the hotel. On Valentines day, 1913 he reopened “The Hotel Karsten”, a luxurious three story brick, 55 room hotel, complete with a dining room able to serve 90 people and a bar with it's own entrance.

William Sr. eventually retired passing the business on to his son William Karsten Jr. After the death of his wife, William Sr. spent many hours in his suites overlooking the harbor, reminiscing with guests and spending time with his favorite grandson, Billy. The two of them were inseparable, Young Billy would run down the hall to his grandfathers rooms and spend the day talking and playing.

On January 4, 1940, William Karsten Sr. died at the age of 78. Oddly, only 3 weeks later young Billy became ill and died of a respiratory illness.. he was only 5 years old.

William Karsten Jr. continued to run the hotel until his own death in 1964. The hotel closed and the building sat vacant for 2 years.

It was purchased in 1966 and the remodeling began, as did the haunting! The building went through several investors and renovations to bring it up to code. Doug and Toni Charles bought it in 1991 and restored the 1913 d├ęcor. It was sold again in 1996 to Dave and Therese Jacek.

Three spirits are said to haunt the “Karsten Inn”. A housekeeper, named Agatha who, in 1921 was raped by a drunken neighbor and became pregnant. Her parents helped her raise the child but she needed money, so she went to work at the Karsten Inn and remained there from 1925 until 1937. Its said she fell in love with Mr. Karsten who didn't return her affection and she hanged herself in 1937, but the truth is she left to care for her ailing father. But Agatha still roams the halls of the Karsten Inn!

Agatha dislikes men, so she wreaked havoc with the workmen during the renovations.. moving tools, closing doors, turning off lights. She also does not approve of women who drink. She likes to tease the staff by knocking over salt shakers and turning on the stove. Her apparition has also been seen endlessly sweeping the hallways. Her room, 310 has unexplained cold spots and occasional misty figures. The staff sometimes finds old fashioned gray hairpins on the floor.

William Sr. seems to still be in residence at the Karsten Inn as well. If he is upset he will move furniture in what was once his suite of rooms and there will be a sour, unpleasant odor in the air. On occasion his ghost has even been seen at the bar, having a beer!

Little Billy, who loved his grandfather so much in life, seems to still be with him in death, as you will often hear his little feet running down the hallway to his grandfathers room. Young children also report playing with a little boy that bears a striking resemblance to little Billy's picture.

Guests staying at the Karsten Inn, which is now called “The Kewaunee Inn” are encouraged to write in the hotels diary if they have any encounters with the resident ghosts.

So, if you find yourself in the town of Kewaunee, on the shores of Lake Michigan and fancy a room for the night, check into the Kewaunee Inn, and who knows.. maybe you'll be lucky enough to have a beer with old Mr. Karsten at the bar!

For more information on the Kewaunee Inn, visit their website

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